SANZAR will consider future expansion in all parts of the world, including Europe, after the current 18-team Super Rugby competition beds down over the next couple of seasons, newly-appointed chief executive Andy Marinos said.
Marinos, a former Wales centre who also served as CEO of the southern hemisphere body from 2008-10, said one of his first duties would be to draw up a strategy for the “further growth and expansion” of the competitions SANZAR runs.
SANZAR — South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby — was set up to run the Super Rugby provincial and Tri-Nations test competitions in 1996.
Their first move outside the borders of the three founder nations came when Argentina was added to the Tri-Nations to create the Rugby Championship in 2012.
Argentina has also been handed a Super Rugby franchise for next season along with a team from Japan, a first foray into Asia and the northern hemisphere.
Although further incursions into Asia and the untapped North American market would be more natural next steps, Zimbabwe-born Marinos said in a conference call on Wednesday that even Europe would be considered.
While the number of players being lured away from the south by the riches of northern hemisphere clubs indicates the financial strength of countries such as France and England, SANZAR could yet find fertile ground for expansion on the Celtic fringes of European rugby.
“I think you’ve got to have a pretty open piece of paper,” said Marinos.
“Besides the rugby strength that you’ve got to look at it’s also got to be in good markets from a commercial point of view because, at the end of the day, you’ve got to generate sufficient revenue to sustain the competition so you’ve got to look across the board.
“You’ve got to look at all the markets where there are opportunities.”
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